Blog Entry

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:27 pm
The Caps might be losing their grip on this season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- This season began with such promise for the Washington Capitals. They beefed up in an attempt to finally get over the Eastern Conference semifinal hump and hopes were high that this was the team.

It is starting to head toward an end of such despair.

Now granted, there is still time -- and a trade deadline to go -- but this team just isn't the contender so many saw. If you want, blame it on the injuries. It's tough for a team to play without its No. 1 center (Nicklas Backstrom) and No. 1 defenseman (Mike Green). But they aren't the only team dealing with injuries. That's not going to garner much sympathy.

But fact of the matter is they are slipping and are running out of games to pick it up. Depending on what happens with the Panthers take on the Senators on Wednesday night, the Caps could find themselves down by as many as six points in the Southeast Division. Adam Gretz already explained pretty well that that's obviously the worst division in hockey. So being six points back of the worst division leader isn't a good sign.

They have been tough to beat at home. Not for the San Jose Sharks, they weren't. Not on Monday night. The Sharks came in after a tough loss in St. Louis 24 hours ago and beat the Caps down, walking away with a 5-3 win (Caps scored a couple late to make it closer). It was Washington's third loss in a row, second at Verizon Center.

"I don't think we are frustrated," Alex Ovechkin said. "One [game] we have to win, but we didn't win. Everybody's trying. I can't say nobody's trying, nobody's playing 100 percent."

This is why things are hitting critical mass. They have been good at home for almost all of the season and pretty dang bad on the road. Washington's next four are on the road starting with Friday's massive game against the Panthers in Florida. That will follow with dates in Tampa Bay, Carolina and Ottawa too. Not exactly Murder's Row but for a team that struggles on the road, anything is tough.

It's not a stretch to say that they probably need six out of the eight points on that trip. They can't afford to fall any further behind Florida or the rest of their Eastern counterparts.

The good news? There is some. Ottawa is falling harder than the Caps right now, not making the bottom of the East out of reach.

It's pretty safe to say that the Caps need to do something at the trade deadline. They will be active no doubt. Tonight in Washington 12 scouts were on hand including two from the Blue Jackets, ex-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle (now a scout for Anaheim) and Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. It's worth noting that this weekend in Columbus two Caps scouts were present.

"The determination is there -- I think -- in this room,” Matt Hendricks said. “I think the focus is there. The execution just isn't there right now."

This coming road trip is a crucial a stretch as any this season. It really could be the season for the Capitals after their recent swoon.

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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2012 8:34 am

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

Also, maybe it is easier for a fan of hockey in general... not just the Penguins, to see the truth, rather than someone with a vested interest in the team. 

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2012 8:24 am

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

OK, let me try this another way.  Was the Penguin season slippling away before they hired Bylsma?  Going into the season, they had come within two wins of the cup the previous year, the team on paper at least had improved and expectations were that they would win the cup.  There season was slipping away, it took a miraculous run in order for the Penguins to make the playoffs (I think at one point they were in 9th or 10th place, looked sloppy at best, were being out played, looked lethargic on the ice).

Does any of that sound familiar?  The Capitals need something to happen.... their season is slipping away if not toward a tee time.

You can still not give up and admit that they need something positive to happen soon.

Since: Jan 13, 2010
Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:23 pm

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

I think you basically just rehashed exactly that I just said (with the exception of you saying the season IS slipping away and me saying no it isn't). The question isn't whether I am disappointed with the year, or whether the Caps doing anything but a Cup finals spot will be a failure...the question is "is the season slipping away". Only 4 points out of the #3 seed with MANY games left....NO the season is not slipping away....yet. Of course I would expect as much of a comment about the Caps and one of it's fans from a Pittsburgher.....Wink 

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: February 15, 2012 2:45 pm

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

snacks wrote:

Is the season slipping away?

The simple answer to this is yes.   You point out that the season is "SUCH a disappointment that it sickens me".  That statement itself seems to indicate that you see a season with terrific promise going down the tubes.  The Capitals are under performing, they may well get the three seed (which right now would be proof positive that the idea of a division leader getting a top three seed should be revisited - much as there is an example every season).  They might well get an 7/8 seed.  Unless they get to the SCF, would any result not be lower than expectations during the offseason?  The season is slipping away for the Capitals.  They could turn it around, but it would take a really sweet run to make that happen.

Since: Jan 13, 2010
Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:43 pm

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

Is the season slipping away? Are you kidding me? I am a lifelong Caps fan and was in the Cap Centre on Easter sunday 1987 for the greatest hockey game i've ever seen (Caps -v- Isles) and die with them when they do. This season is SUCH a disappointment that it sickens me...poor poor play, lack of effort, no one stepping up...but is the season slipping away? NO - the Caps are only 4 points out of being the #3 seed in the playoffs!!!! Come on Stubits (or is it stupids) get real. Season slipping away? Are you that desparate for a headline? Now granted if the Caps do get in i think they will be a first round knockout and then the season's over.....but i don't give up on them NOW.

Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:43 pm

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

Where to begin? So many things going wrong and I think this team really has no leader on the team. Just because Ovechkin wears the C on his sweater does not mean he is cut out to be the Captain. He has to be vocal in the locker room and I do not think he is. This team is full of followers with no leader. Another concern has to be on defense, When I see shots being taken with opponents crowding the goalie, the Dmen are standing around watching instead of knocking their opponents away from their goalie. The Capitals are taking way to many senseless penalties and that will hurt tremendously. Players must think quickly before reacting I just don't see that. There is also a huge concern as who is scoring and hardly anyone is doing that. So with Ovechkin the only scoring threat on the ice, opposing teams will crowd him and let everyone else shoot at will knowing the puck will hardly ever go in the net. Dennis Wideman and Jason Chimera started off great and since before the All Star break they have tailed off. With several injuries to key players nobody has really stepped up their game. Caps have so may good players at Hershey  but with lack of experience they will not help. I think the Caps should write off this season and start trading away some of these high priced veterns and try to get some youth into the team if that is all possible. Maybe they should get a player who will lead this team on and off the ice. I also do not think that Dale Hunter is quite ready to be a NHL coach so maybe they should hire someone with a little more experience to lead this team.

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:39 pm

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

I totally agree.  Ovechkin is not cut out to be captain.  He is not a true leader.  And Semin is like a cancer on the team.  The guys got all the talent in the world but seldom shows up to play.  I would not trade for Semin.  Bunch of prima donnas in Washington.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:25 pm

When will they wake up and trade OV?

In the OV era (6 full seasons plus this season), the Caps have won a grand total of 2 playoff series.  This year, OV is on pace to set a career low in points, and he's a negative plus/minus player.  He's a disaster in the locker room, he's selfish and dirty on the ice, and he wears the C, yet isn't qualified to lead anything.  He got his last coach fired, he's been suspended for dirty hits, and he blew off the All-Star game to "punish" the NHL (although I suspect they were thrilled not to have him around on All-Star weekend). 

How much money do the Washington Capitals pay for that?

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:57 am

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

I'd say it's already slipped too far away to recover. I'm a longtime Caps fan, and it's just not working. Yes, the injury to Backstrom is vital, as he and Ovie have special chemistry and work best together. But the other various parts aren't working; they definitely need to make a lot of trades. Hunter needs some different players to make his system work properly. We need more depth at center, and some good D; Mike Green may be back soon, but we need more than one. And we need to clone Laich and Hendricks, or find a way to graft their work ethic onto Semin's talent. (Please please trade Semin!)

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: February 14, 2012 10:40 am

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

Yeah, the coaching change made a big difference but so did some of the players added at the trade deadline. 

That team has a lot of talent, and I liked the moves that McPhee made in the offseason.  The Capitals, without a single change, could go 20-2-1 or whatever they have left.... with a simple change in attitude.  Only Gary Roberts is Gary Roberts, but there are other players out there who are dominant personalities that could change the attitude.  It doesn't take a coaching change.

My personal feelings about the Capitals (living in DC) aside, they should be doing more. 

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